It was utter chaos at Goulburn High School on the first day after the winter break in 1962 as 800 students and parents waited for enrolment instructions.
Goulburn Catholic schools decided to go on strike for six weeks, shutting out more than 1350 primary and high school students.
It all started over a toilet block. The New South Wales government had refused to fund an upgrade to toilets at Our Lady of Mercy Primary School.
The schools shut down in protest and parents marched their children to state schools to show it would cost a lot more on the public purse to provide public education Catholic students.
This year marks 200 years since the first Catholic school opened in Parramatta. Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Christopher Prowse said the spirit of that Goulburn protest was still alive and well.
"[Parents and families] really want to have Catholic education as an option for the education of their children," he said
"This has come through over these 200 years loud and clear and still reverberates. I think it's something of great importance to the Australian culture that tends to peripherise people of belief."
The Goulburn strike also set the precedent for governments to contribute funding for children in non-government schools.
In 2018, federal, state and territory governments spent an average of $12,037 per Catholic school student and $10,190 per student in independent schools. This compared to $14,189 per public school student.
Director of Catholic Education for Canberra and Goulburn Ross Fox said the Goulburn strike demonstrated a partnership between the church and parents.
"Parents really stood up for their right to choose how to educate their children and the government responded. We've now progressed well towards addressing that long-standing inequity," he said.
A lot has changed in Catholic schools, most notably the transformation of teaching staff from ordained nuns and brothers to lay people.
Revelations of historical sexual abuse in the Catholic church and the economic impacts of the pandemic appear to have not slowed the demand for places in Catholic schools.
Initial results from the ACT school census on February 19 showed enrolments were booming.
"We've hit record enrolments in the ACT, so we've got more students in Catholic schools than ever," Mr Fox said.
"That's an outstanding endorsement of the great teachers, the great school leaders and really highly-valued place of Catholic education in the community."
The Archdiocese was eyeing off opportunities to open more Catholic schools. It has put in an expression of interest for a site in Wright in the Molonglo Valley.
"When you look at the future projections, Canberra as a city is growing very strongly," Archbishop Prowse said.
"Therefore we want to be where the people are. [We're] very keen to open new parishes and new schools, according to these trends and we're keeping an eye open for the next 20, 30, the next 200 years."
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